• Illustrator Contract – Absolute MUSTS

    I am very privileged to get to offer some advice from my experience publishing and writing children’s books, and one thing I am often asked about is working with illustrators and illustrator contracts in particular. 

    “How do you find an illustrator?” and of course,

    “What should you include in your illustrator contract?”

    My suggestion is, do you research when you find one you like, or use an agency. 

     What to look for:
    – work the illustrator has done before
    – can they work within your timeline and budget?
    – ask for a referral

    So, assuming you've found the perfect illustrator and are getting serious about hiring them.  What is absolutely essential when drawing up an illustrator contract? 

    Some of it is obvious, but here is a checklist I always refer to when I help my authors with their contracts:

    Illustrator Contract Checklist

    • the date of completion
    • their price
    • pay half now, and half upon completionyour book’s dimensions (will you be doing an 8×10 picture book? 5×7? You need to know this before you sign a contract with an illustrator. You can research what works best for your target audience. I went to a bookstore and got a feel for the size of book I liked, then measured it! haha)
    • the specifics that your graphic artist/printer will need to prepare to go to print
    • include a story-board requirement so that you have an idea of what everything will look like, page by page, before they start on full illustrations. You can see an example of the story-board I got from my latest book, The Big, Bad Bully, above. Eva Morales was my very talented illustrator for The Big, Bad Bully, and it was published through HCI Books. 
    • and MOST IMPORANTLY make sure your illustrator contract states that you are hiring your illustrator (work-for-hire) and upon completion, you will own the copyrights to the illustrations. This means that you can use these illustrations in the future, as you see fit.

    If you’re thinking, “What would I need the illustrations for?” think about merchandising. If you don’t own the rights to the illustrations, you will have to share a cut with your illustrator and come to an agreement. This is much more difficult after your book is a major success.

    If you found this helpful, and would like to have me available to help you navigate these kind of negotiations (plus so much more, as you publish) consider joining my Publishing Mastermind.

    I am accepting a few more authors for my Publishing Mastermind that is starting next week. I work with a small number of aspiring children's book authors in a one year mentorship. We focus on perfecting your story, we publish your book, and I also teach you how to market your book. 

    The deadline in Friday, May 29th! I don't know when I will be offering it again. 

    If you want to discuss being one of my new authors, shoot me a message! I'll be happy to arrange a time for us to talk.
  • Grow your Social Media

    Social media is a great tool for growing your influence, but how can you use it effectively? After years of experience, I’ve learned that it’s a process that takes time, but there are some golden rules to follow to make sure you are getting the most out of your efforts. 

    ** Hey writers! If you are stumped for ideas on what to post, I’ve got you covered. Here is a free PDF with 8 prompts to help spark some ideas.**  —- > Click Here to Download

    WHAT to post: Ultimately your goal is to share something that will bring value to your viewer. It doesn’t have to be huge value, either! Something as simple as sparking a smile, is value that the viewer wants.

    Think about the posts that you pay attention to in your personal social media. Chances are they make you smile, inspire you, challenge you, inform you, or spark your curiousity.

    HOW to post: There are three things that every post needs. 

    1. A Good Title (The first line has to hook them, just like a book.)
    2. A Picture. (Or it will not get the attention it deserves.)
    3. A Call to Action (CTA). If you can get someone to engage with your post somehow, that is gold. Posts that prompt people to vote on different options, respond with questions or shared experiences, or “give it a like” do really well.

    *Engagement plays a big part in whether social media platforms, like Facebook and Instagram, choose to show that post to your followers.*

    That’s right! Not all of your followers are going to see everything you post, BUT, if a post is “performing well”, more people will see it. Exactly how they figure this out (their algorithm) is a well-guarded secret, but we know that part of it has to do with how many people respond to the post, and how quickly. 

    WHEN to post: I’ve found that the time of day, or day of the week doesn’t matter as much as consistency. If you want people to pay attention, you need to be getting in front of them on a regular basis. How frequently, you ask? The professionals say multiple times a day. 

    My advice, if you are starting out, is to start posting once a week. and then stretch yourself for posting two or three times a week, until you are posting every day.

    Are you looking to learn about writing for children? Join me for a free webinar. Registration required.

  • How To Find the Time to Write

    Something I get asked over and over is “how can I find the time to write?” How do you find the time to do anything for yourself with the pressures of work and a family? With four children of my own, let me tell you, I can relate. 

    The key to finding time for your own dreams is something I learned with my very first book, I CAN Believe in Myself. You wouldn’t think that I wrote it during one of the busiest times of my life. I had a brand new baby, Lucas, who was just a couple months old. He was the newest member of our four children. Talk about busy!

    I carved out time to write a children’s book because I had a really big WHY. 

    I had recently suffered a personal family tragedy and was determined to write a book that would help my children (and children around the world) believe in themselves. That WHY was a driving force that motivated me.

    That is the key to making time to do the thing you never seem to have the time for. Discover why you want to write, and let that drive you to find a way to make it happen. 

    Many people are in isolation right now, and the situation is different for everyone. 

    Some people find they have a lot of time on their hands, and it is just a matter of motivation. Others are suddenly learning how to “home-school” their children, or even how to juggle their family at home and work at the same time. 

    I get it. It seems there is never a perfect time to start working on your dreams. My advice is to find a coach or community, someone who can help you stay focused on your why.

    If your dream is writing a children's book, I’m running a Writing Webinar on May 20, 2020. I'm going to share some things I learned early on to help you avoid some mistakes I made in the beginning. 

    Join me and learn more about writing a solid children’s book. Click on the link to get the details and sign up for the free writing webinar.

    This is a picture of me holding my first published book in my hand. I’m so glad I didn’t give up because that moment made it all worth it.

    I didn’t know it then, but that book became a tool for empowering over 100,000 children and setting a Guinness World Record. (I am celebrating the 6 year anniversary this week! You can see a throwback picture on my Facebook or Instagram.)

    If this is your dream, I know you can make it happen. 

    And, if there is anything I can do to help you, let me know. In fact, I'm offering that free webinar specifically to help new aspiring children's book authors. I had to learn a lot of things on my own when I first published. Now, it's time to turn around and help others. 

  • 4 Fun Ideas for Kids at Home

    Parks are closed. Sports are delayed. School is cancelled (sort-of). We are several weeks into this self-isolation and having the kids at home means getting creative. 

    If you are anything like me, you have moments where you are left grasping for inspiration for fun ideas on keeping your kids happy and healthy. 

    I know that they are struggling with the major change in routine (just like us adults), and while the situation is difficult, I still want to use the time to connect with them. I've kept my eye open for some fun ideas and creative ways to approach this time in isolation together. 

    Now, these ideas are a mixed bag. I was looking for things that were fun, educational, creative, active, and/or offered a way for me to connect with them. Each of these fun ideas touches on at least one of those themes, so take a peek and pick the one that speaks to you. 

    1. Art for Kids YouTube Channel (ages 4+)
    How to draw videos. This guy makes it so easy to draw a particular item, and you can see exactly how to do it. I was really impressed with how the instructions are geared specifically for kids and are very clear, and easy to follow! I think if followed along, I could actually draw something decent, too! (haha)

    2. DIY Donut Kit  from Tim Hortons  (all ages)
    This one is possibly local to the Niagara Region only, BUT there are lots of small businesses who are offering “make-your-own” or DIY kits for a bunch of different tasty treats. For example, pre-easter, I couldn't count the number of cookie decorating kits being made available for pick up. If your local donut shop doesn’t offer this, chances are there will be something else available. 

    3. Virtual Circle Time (toddlers/preschoolers/jk)
    The St. Catharines Library has gone online with some virtual events on their facebook page. They have weekly circle time with Karissa, plus drawing tutorials (older kids), and even local history quizzes (more geared for adults or niagara history nuts. 

     

    4. Sports Training (all ages)
    Kids that are normally heavily involved in sports can be feeling the pain of isolation, especially now. To help alleviate this, I found some one-on-one online training for Lucas. Now, there are alternatives to paying for this kind of thing. If you are adept yourself, this is a perfect opportunity to spend time coaching yourself. If not, there are lots of coaches out there that are making their services available (some for free) via Zoom. Check with your child's coach and see what they offer, or if they can point you in the right direction. If not, look for a high-quality YouTube channel that has what you are looking for. (Want to connect with me on Instagram? I share stuff like this on my story all the time. My handle is Miriam.Laundry) 

    Are you searching for something to do for yourself while at home?

    Attend a LIVE Facebook Concert (adults or supervised)
    The FirstOntario Performing Arts Facebook Page has been holding weekly online live concerts that you can attend. All you have to do is click on a link from their Event page and you will be able to watch and listen to some live music from the comfort of your own home. This Thursday, April 23rd, you can hear the music from Gordon Cleland, Niagara's Master Cellist LIVE. 

    Get Your Children's Book Published (adults)
    I am once again accepting manuscripts for my Publishing Mastermind. This program is designed to give you access to my expertise in self-publishing, and get your book published within 12 months time. I am seeking a limited number for a new group of first-time authors with inspirational children's books.

    How do you apply to have your children's book published? Schedule a quick call with me to see if the Publishing Mastermind is the right fit for you.

  • TWUC Author Visit Subsidy Now Open

    The TWUC subsidy application is now open for schools booking author visits in the 2020/2021 school year. The Union subsidizes a portion of the author's reading fee and travel and accommodation costs.

    I would love if you invited me back to your school, of course, but just to be clear, this is something that is open for any school visits booked with any authors registered with the TWUC (they have some really great ones!)

    All the details for applications can be found here: https://www.writersunion.ca/ontario-writers-schools

    Free Online Training:

    Do you have a children’s book that you want to publish yourself? This is the PERFECT time to work on it. I am running another LIVE Writing Webinar on April 17th. 

    7 Secrets to Writing an Award-Winning Children’s Book was wonderfully popular last month. I want to make sure you are able to join me for the next one. 


  • RISE

    As we celebrated International Women’s Day yesterday it made me think that I want to be the woman my daughter’s look up to. I want to exemplify a strong woman that goes for her dreams so that they see it firsthand and model that.

    That is one reason I was at Rachel Hollis’ RISE this weekend in Toronto. I got some AMAZING takeaways from that event that I want to share with you.

    Rachel Hollis and I

    DAY 1 was about Owning Your Past. It was probably the most emotional day for many, as we tend to carry burdens from our past; things we bury and don’t talk about. Rachel Hollis did a powerful exercise called “Stand Up for Your Sister.” 

    Everyone wrote down on a piece of paper something that they were carrying; a trauma, or a personal loss like a parent or sibling from childhood. It was anonymous. She listed 16 different things that could be possible burdens.

    Then the papers got shuffled around so much that no one could tell who had whose paper. She called out the different things from the stage, and if the paper you were holding had it, you stood up. It was SO POWERFUL. There were hundreds, sometimes thousands, of women standing up for different issues. You weren’t standing for your own past, but for a fellow attendee whose paper you held. 

    With close to 4000 women attending, it became SO CLEAR that we are not suffering alone. We don’t realize that the things from the past, that we keep so quiet and secret, are things that we daily carry the weight of. We don’t realize that there are many who struggle with the same burden.

    The biggest realization for me was how far I’ve come. Without going into detail about what was on my paper, I will say that it is truly remarkable what we can overcome. That is what I want. My intention is to deal with my past so that my children can have a better life. The past is in the past. 

    DAY 2 was all about Owning Your Present. There was a lot of focus on health, both physical and mental health. What kind of habits you have, and what kind of habits you want to have. My biggest takeaway from Day 2 was a decision to focus on my physical health. For the last ten years I have been really working on my mental health, and I believe I am in a good place, so now it is time to focus on the physical!

    A highlight for me was listening to Amy Porterfield! I am a big fan of hers, and it was really great to get to sit and listen to what she had to share about owning your present.

    DAY 3 was all about Owning Your Future. YES! Goal-setting is my jam. I have said this before, and I will say it again, I am a goal-setting GEEK! I get really excited about the future, putting out some visions and setting some goals …. and then going for them! My big goals are:

    1. Get my health in order
    2. Build my publishing company. I want to help other people who have inspiring children’s books. I want to help them put them out there. I know it is hard to take the leap and publish, but it is my passion. I love helping others succeed! I've got some announcements in that regard, coming down the line, so stay posted!

    Would I go back to RISE? Definitely. 

    Made some friends and attended a Roaring 20s Party

    Taking the time to attend events like this is life-changing – as long as you go and learn, AND then apply it. I couldn’t get everything into one email, there is a LOT that was so good. You can expect another update soon about a speaker that really hit home for me, Trent Shelton. 

    I am excited to go back and apply what I learned, and I hope you found some value in the highlights I was able to pass on today. 

    Hugs,

    Miriam

  • 3 Strategies to Build Self-Esteem in Children

    I wrote The Big, Bad Bully to help children and teens become aware of their thought life, stop negative self-talk in it’s tracks, and give them the tools to build positive, self-esteem building thought patterns. I did this because I had done my research on low self-esteem, and what I found scared me:
    “Low self-esteem is a thinking disorder in which an individual views him/herself as inadequate, unlovable, and/or incompetent. Once formed, this negative view permeates every thought, producing faulty assumptions and ongoing self-defeating behaviour.”1

    “Over 70% of girls age 15 to 17 avoid normal daily activities, such as attending school, when they feel bad about their looks.”2

    “Teen girls that have a negative view of themselves are 4 times more likely to take part in activities with boys that they've ended up regretting later.”3
    And it’s not just girls.
    “38% of boys in middle school and high school reported using protein supplements and nearly 6% admitted to experimenting with steroids.”4
    We ourselves, as adults, know the repercussions for low self-self-esteem and intentionally work to build self-esteem in our children. Sifting through different strategies can be confusing, but my co-author, Jack Canfield has summed it up quite nicely:

    “Self-worth and self-esteem comes from believing that you are capable and loveable.”

    So how do we help our kids and teens build their self-esteem? 

    The most effective methods provide evidence to your children that they are loved, and that they are capable. They bring a child’s successes and support network into focus.If you were able to catch my interview on The Morning Show, I shared three simple things from The Big, Bad Bully and Jack’s teaching that will help build self-esteem in kids and teens: 
    1. The Mirror Exercise. Every night for 40 nights to build the habit and change thought patterns. 
    Say your name.
    Appreciate yourself by acknowledging what you did that day out loud.
    Say “I love you!” to yourself.
    Take it in by taking a deep breath.

    Get a free printable version that you can tape to your mirror HERE.
    Get the full instructions on how to do The Mirror Exercise HERE.

    2. Put two photographs in your child’s room. One of them doing something they are good at (like a sport or interest) and a second one of the family from a happy memory. It could be a vacation you had, or a birthday. Having a daily visual reminder of these two things reminds children of their accomplishments (they are capable) and happy memories (they are loveable). 

    3. Model it for your kids. If they see and hear you criticizing yourself, or speaking negatively about yourself, they will unconsciously pick that up themselves. On the flip side, they will also pick up on a positive outlook, as well. Why not try The Mirror Exercise together with your children and see the results for you both!
    Let me know what methods you use to build self-esteem for your children and for yourself! I would love to hear from you. 

    Hugs,
     
    Miriam

    P.S. To get in touch with me, reach out through my contact page!
  • Picture Book Template

    I have the great pleasure of working with some up and coming authors and speaking to students who are learning to write and I have realized two things:

    1) students are REALLY interested in the writing process, and

    2) I am REALLY passionate about sharing what I have learned with both students and aspiring authors. 

    I know the ins and out of editing a book before it is sent to the printers, and so…. I made an editing tool to help students (and writers) prepare their picture book manuscript for an editor or illustrator. This template is easy to use, and when you have finished copying your story into it, you can print it off and staple it together to get a real feel for what your book might look like!

    Whether you are considering writing your own children’s book, or are encouraging writing in your students or family, this is the perfect editing tool for your manuscript.

    Did you know 32 pages is the standard for children's books? Or that almost all children’s picture books are under 1000 words? If you check the books on your shelf, you will see for yourself!

    The word count has to do with how much is appropriate for different ages, but the number of pages is a logistical thing. It has to do with how the paper comes off a printing press before it is bound into a book. The cheapest and most efficient way is to make it 32 pages long, so that is the standard for the industry. 

    And so…. I present my 32 Page Picture Book Template. It has space for your story AND some insider knowledge for navigating the publishing world.

    Below is an overview of how the 32 pages is laid out. (It's included in the template, as well.) You can see that the first three pages are taken up by the Title Page, The Copyright Page, and the Dedication Page. That leaves 29 pages for an author's manuscript to spread across. 

    I am a visual person. When I wrote my first book I made a low-tech, stapled together, bunch of papers (32 in total). Then I printed off my manuscript and cut out the sections of text that I thought would do well on each page, and I glued them in. Very technology advanced…. I know. 

    While this may be a very simple thing, it was so necessary! I NEED to see something and hold it in my hands to get a feel for what it will look like. This “hardcopy” helped me edit my draft. It helped me make sure each page was a “page turner,” and had a flow that kept the reader engaged.

    When I wrote my first children’s book, I had NO IDEA of these printing norms. All I had was an idea, that I thought could be great, and a deep desire to make a difference. I hope this tool can help make the whole process easier for you. 

    Feel free to download my Picture Book Template and use it to educate your students and kids OR edit your own manuscript. 

    Did you know that I coach aspiring authors and publish children's books? If you have a children's book you want to publish, consider submitting your idea for consideration.

  • Lifeology Interview Miriam Laundry

    James Miller | Lifeology interviews Miriam Laundry. February 6, 2020

    James Miller | Lifeology interviews Miriam Laundry. February 6, 2020

    James Miller is a licensed psychotherapist and the executive producer and host of the nationally broadcasted and syndicated radio show James Miller Lifeology. James has been in the mental health field for over 22 years. After 13 years in private practice, James left his thriving practice in the Washington, DC area and created James Miller Lifeology, where he globally helps people simplify and transform their spirit, mind, and body.

    Listen Now!

    I am very excited to have been invited to by James Miller for an interview! It's is wonderful to get a chance to chat with a fellow professional who is making such a difference in the world.

    James always has wonderful guests on Lifeology, and brings such a fresh insight with some solid info on mental health and self-care. Take a minute to listen in on our talk about The Big, Bad Bully, getting started as an author, and making a difference by reforming that inner-critic into an inner coach!

     

    One of my passions is to mentor fellow children's book authors and help them go from having a great idea for a book to having a a published book in their hands. You can find out about how to submit your idea or manuscript for consideration here: Publish Your Book

    The Big, Bad Bully is a bully story with a twist.”

    Follow a young girl who struggles throughout grade school with a bully. Every day she hears her flaws pointed out. Finally, she decides to stand up to her tormentor and discovers…. it is herself! This is not a book about the bully sitting beside you in class, but the bully living in your head.

  • Family Literacy Day

    On Monday it was ABC’s Family Literacy Day, where people took time to raise awareness and celebrate the importance of reading and participating in literacy based activities.

    I was super excited to kick Family Literacy Day off with Mary Immaculate School in Chepstow with a Virtual Author Visit! I was able to share a little bit about being an author (the kids always love that), and then read The Big, Bad Bully with them. My favourite part was at the end, when a number of students came up and asked me questions. 

    I just LOVE doing Virtual Author Visits! It’s so easy to connect with the students, and it provides just another great option for schools that are far from my home in Niagara. 

    For those of you who are in warmer parts, we had hail that morning. Hail! I love Canada, but sometimes, especially in January and February, I really miss warm Bolivia, haha. 

    I Read Canadian Day is coming up on February 19th and I am going to offer the virtual author visits again for five lucky schools. It is FREE when the school places an order for 20 of my books or more. 

    For schools that send book orders home with students or make them available through school cash online, you get a special deal where tax is included, AND, as long, as you are in Canada or the USA, I will ship those books to your for free. 

    I want to make it as easy as possible for schools to get a live author visit for their students, and Family Literacy Day and I READ Canadian Day are just wonderful excuses to do so. 

    If you would like to have me pencil in your school and reserve one of the spots for I Read Canadian Day,  let me know ASAP. I will be booking schools on a first-come, first-served basis. 

    Hugs, 

    Miriam